Friday, May 31, 2002

A riot has broken out in Belfast.

Anyone else out there notice that something really freaky happens whenever you're feeling under the weather: about 20% of the people you know turn into doctors. Everyone seems to be tossing out medical advice like crap candy from a Pez dispenser, most of it contrary to what you were told by your doctor.

You know, the one in the white coat, who works at the hospital, who went to school for years and years.

I do appreciate the insights from people who have suffered from something similar. But I can't stand medical know-nothings telling me what my doctor should or shouldn't have done, prescribed, tested, or poked at.

Well, I've got a bit of advice of my own. Should you be unfortunate enough to become sick or injured, avoid anyone you know who is involved in a pyramid scheme like they've got the plague.

You see, this person who is usually trying to foist products on you that can make your whites whiter, help you lose 20 pounds in 15 minutes, boost your sex appeal, cure cancer, and remove those pesky spots from your carpet without you having to so much as lift a finger becomes exceptionally annoying when you are immobile and in pain.

In this particular instance, I was told that the swelling in my legs would go away immediately if I tried some of this all-natural, herbal medicinal tea. And it only costs $39.95 per dose! What a bargain!

Politely declining the offer was not enough. I was told by my doctor not to mix the anti-biotics with any other medication, herbal or otherwise.

"But this tea was manufactured by a doctor!"

Maybe, but not by a doctor that had a good look at my legs.

(Rolls eyes). "What's all this silly nonsense about doctors and hospitals? Trust me. I've been to a seminar!"

No thank you. I'll take two of these, a shot of Stoli, and prop my feet up, just like Doc told me to. Okay, so he didn't say anything about Stoli, but I shouldn't have to miss out on all the fun, should I?

"But I mean, really, he told you not to drink tea? What's wrong with tea?"

Nothing, come to think about it. Would you mind making me a nice cup of Earl Grey?

"No! You need my special tea! Not only will the swelling go down, but men will find you sexier and the stains on your mattress will disappear!"

Please go away.

"Fine. If you want to be all close-minded about it. Some people just don't like to try new things, I guess."

Where my health and my ability to walk are concerned, yes, I am one of those people.

Needless to say, I didn't try the tea.

Thursday, May 30, 2002

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Ferris calls for release of IRA killers

The new Sinn Fein TD for Kerry North, Martin Ferris, has called for the immediate release of the IRA killers of Detective Garda Jerry McCabe.

The former gunrunner said the Government should release the convicts, whom he called the "Castlerea Five", and should do so immediately in order to live up to its responsibilities under the Good Friday Agreement.

Where in the Good Friday Agreement does it say that these men in particular have to be released in order to comply? It doesn't say all prisoners, but a rather vague "qualifying prisoners".

The former Republican prisoner said those on the outside now sent solidarity greetings to those who remained in prison, "especially those in Castlerea prison who are qualifying prisoners and who should be released immediately."

Their continued imprisonment was contrary to the Good Friday Agreement, he insisted, despite repeated Government declarations that the convicted men must serve their full sentences of up to 14 years in jail.

Each institution may, at any time, review any problems that may arise in its operation and, where no other institution is affected, take remedial action in consultation as necessary with the relevant Government or Governments. It will be for each institution to determine its own procedures for review.

The full text of the Agreement is here.

Continuing my ongoing therapy to help prevent me from attacking insipid commentators, I will, once again, stick a pin through the heart of my Daily Wanker voodoo doll.

Freedom to hate, freedom to harm
by Julian Booger Borger

The United States often appears peculiarly gripped by its history, perhaps because blah, blah, blah, evil second amendment that causes bloodshed, violence, and infant mortality because guns are bad blah, blah, blah.
This week, it is the first amendment's turn. The supreme court has decided to consider an issue that most Americans and much of the rest of the world had considered dead and buried - whether there is a constitutional right to burn crosses in the manner made famous over a century ago by the Ku Klux Klan.

Yes, the rest of the world is far too civilized to burn crosses. Instead they burn synagogues and embassies. And while their constitutions (those who have constitutions, that is) may not expressly protect this, their governments seem rather disconnected from any attempt at stopping it.

The Klan is still around, in a depleted and pathetic form, and there are still some people out there who choose to relive the "good old days" of overt and vicious racial bigotry by burning the odd cross. The court is to consider two cases from 1998, both from Virginia. In one incident, a Klansman lit a 30-foot cross on private land which, naturally enough, terrified passing blacks. In another case, a couple of drunken rednecks tried to burn a cross in a black neighbour's garden. When the cases went to trial, a conservative Virginia court reversed a 50-year-old law banning the practice, and brought some unpleasant history back to haunt the south.

He's got me here. I agree that the Klan is "pathetic" and would be perfectly happy to see it altogether "depleted", but the Klan represents a very, very, very small minority in this country. Just like the folks in my predominantly black and latino neighborhood who scrawl "Kill Whitey" on the sides of liquor stores are surely an exception in regards to the rest of the community.
In Britain and much of Europe, this would be a "no-brainer". Many countries have laws on the books outlawing racial incitement. If a reasonable majority or the ruling party decides a particular form of behaviour is sufficiently antisocial, it is simply banned.

Again, those sophisticated, elite Europeans. We be two dumm in American to understand. As far as "particular forms of antisocial behavior", in U.S. history these have included helping slaves escape, alcohol consumption, female suffrage, and as Mr. Borger himself points out, socialism. Our Constitution rightly protects its citizens from the whims of a "ruling party" in order to protect the rights of the minority.
The US constitution is a uniquely powerful document, but whether it has really done anything for the cause of freedom is open to debate.

Yep, that's exactly what it's there for: to allow people to openly debate.

It accommodated slavery for longer than European states, turned a blind eye to the Jim Crow segregation laws for decades...

Admittedly, it did. Shameful mark on our history's past. But as we all know, European countries don't have any of those. There histories are repleat with stories of benevolent kindness and willingness to include people from all walks of life in public service.

..and did nothing to stop McCarthyism.

How could it? In his self-righteous indictment of the Constitution, Mr. Borger apparently forgot to explain why it should have stopped McCarthyism.

Nowadays it is being used as a vehicle for the proliferation of guns...

You say that like it was a bad thing.

...and a shelter for racists.

Indeed. Our silly little treasured document protects unpopular ideas. How utterly hideous.

It clearly takes more than a document to negotiate the treacherous currents and eddies of human liberty.

Clearly it does. That's where the federal, state, county, and city governments come in. They take the bastard who expresses his/her racism by hurting others and throws their ass in jail, where it belongs. Besides, how much does "law" have to do with "liberty" anyway?

Wednesday, May 29, 2002

I watched Gladiator last night. There's one thing I'm wondering: if Roman Emperors surely did not speak with British accents, why do the crappy American actors that portray them do? And badly at that.

Just wondering.

At least Stephen Byers finally resigned, formally ending (let us hope...) the dullest political scandal of the century. Now he's insisting "I will be vindicated". Sure, buddy. You're vindicated, okay? Now go away.

I remember shortly after 9/11, someone asked Rudy Giuliani how long he thought it might take to clean up the wreck of the WTC. He guessed about 18 months. Looks like the fine folks up there will have tidied it up in just over half that. I am so proud of those people.

Tuesday, May 28, 2002

I apologize for the lack of posting today. I fell asleep on my belly while I was reading at the beach yesterday, and came down with a case of sun poisoning so bad that I couldn't walk for about 20 hours afterwards. It's left me brain dead (more so than usual), exhausted, and in a heck of a lot of pain.

I'll be back on my feet and annoying the bejeebers out of everyone again soon.